Fall Into Me by Linda Winfree
Series: Hearts of the South #7
Also in this series: Truth and Consequences, What Mattered Most, His Ordinary Life, Uncovered, Memories of Us, Hearts Awakened, Facing It, Hold On To Me, Gone From Me (Hearts of the South, #10)
Publication Date: November 1st 2009
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She's finally falling for the right man...at the worst possible time. A part of the Hearts of the South series.
After two back-to-back romantic disappointments, bar owner Angel Henderson isn't looking for love. In the past month, she's been passed over twice by men she'd pinned her hopes on, both times in favor of a younger woman. She's ready to swear off men for life. The only problem? A certain younger man determined to prove he can be her right man.
Sheriff's deputy Troy Lee Farr is tired of being the department screw-up. The harder he tries to prove himself, the worse it gets. The only thing that's gone right recently is getting a second chance with Angel. Except she'd rather jam on the brakes than rush into a new relationship. Now he has to work hard to prove his worth as a romantic prospect.
Troy Lee is a patient man, and it isn't long before Angel is falling into him as hard as he's fallen for her. Just as Angel begins to think of him as more than a fun date, her past-and Troy's dangerous reality-threatens the tentative happiness they've found in one another. Reminding them both that security is tenuous...and unconditional love is the biggest challenge of all.
Warning: Cops who talk like cops, explicit older woman-younger man lovin', and two-boxes-of-tissues emotion.
This is book 7 in the Hearts of the South series. I don’t believe it’s necessary to read all 6 previous entries, I do think reading Hearts Awakened, the release immediately prior to this one, is a good idea. There are chapters in this book from the characters in that one and some of the plot threads carry over.
This is my favorite Hearts of the South series novel. When I read it the first time the ending frustrated me so much I didn’t give it the love it deserves. Troy Lee is amazing. I absolutely adore him and his relationship with Angel. I’ve now read a million times – and each time I fall even more in love with Troy Lee. The end still makes me very angry, but if I skip the epilogue and ignore the way Tick acted for most of the book, I could happily label this book (almost) perfect.
I’m a huge fan of Linda Winfree’s Hearts of the South series. When I first started reading Fall Into Me I had serious doubts, however, because it features two elements I generally don’t care for. 1) Angel is older than Troy Lee. 2) Angel had a one night stand with the hero of the previous book. I was also concerned because Troy Lee was shown as kind of a bumbling kid in one of the previous books. I wasn’t sure how Winfree was going to make this work, but she did. Luckily the younger man angle was only looked at casually and not the focus of the entire book.
Angel has been very unlucky in love. Her fiance of too many years goes on a trip to Biloxi and comes home with a bride. Yes, he’s gone for a week and comes home married to another woman. A woman he’d just met. Then she has a one night stand with deputy Mark Cook that she thinks might go somewhere. Instead she hears from someone else that he’s got a brand new girlfriend. Determined to forget all about men, she focuses on work. Until Troy Lee Farr shows up, that is.
Troy Lee has had his eye on Angel for years. He figured if he waited long enough her fiance would screw things up and he’d have a shot. He didn’t see his co-worker getting to Angel first, but now that she’s single wastes no time pursuing her. Angel is wary, he knows he has to romance her slowly.
I loved Troy Lee Farr. Seriously loved him. He was…perfect. And not perfect in a you’re-so-perfect-you’re-annoying kind of way, either. Just..perfect. He’s strong, funny, smart, sensitive and not afraid to put himself out there. Angel is having a really hard time moving into another relationship, but Troy Lee is patient and understanding. He doesn’t push her to move too fast, he just asks her to believe one second at a time:
When he lifted his head, she clung to his shoulders, both of them breathing hard. He cradled her cheek in one palm. “I’m not asking you to believe now. I know it’s too soon for that, after…well, after everything. If you can believe just for this second, then for the one after that, and after that, soon you’re believing in me, in us, all the while. Think you can handle that? This second?”
She smiled, desire pulling at her again. “I can do that.”
An answering smile flirted with his mouth. He kissed her. “What about this one?”
“I can do that too.”
He lowered his mouth to hers again. “How about this one?”
When a huge complication pops up with Angel, he’s understanding and supportive. If Angel had been stupid enough to turn away from him (which thankfully she wasn’t) I would have scooped him up myself. He was the definition of what every man should be.
I really liked Angel, too. Yes, she’d had bad luck in love. And yes, she was somewhat cynical about it. But she had a great sense of humor and really worked hard to get over her hurt.
“Are you still running that bar?” Maureen’s voice dropped to a shocked whisper on the last word and Hope rolled her eyes, working the pick through Maureen’s thick hair.
“The Cue Club? Yes, ma’am, I am.” Angel leaned forward with her best devilish wink. “But I’m thinking of changing the name to the Den of Iniquity and getting some exotic dancers. You know, strippers.”
Miss Maureen’s eyes widened, pencil-thin brows nearly reaching the salt and pepper curls falling onto her forehead.
“She’s just teasing, Maureen.” Mama waved a dismissive hand.
She didn’t let her past mistakes ruin her relationship with Troy Lee. Well, okay, she tried not to let them. She had a lot of baggage to deal with, but she didn’t run from him or try to push him away. She dealt, one second at a time:
His intense blue gaze held hers, willing her to believe. She pulled in a shaky breath. Each second, he’d said. This second, then another, then another, until she believed all the time. She closed her eyes. She wanted to trust in him, in them. Why did it have to be so darn hard?
Using his hold on her wrist, he drew her closer, leaned down to rest his cheek against hers. “I’m yours,” he murmured near her ear. “You have me. Believe that, baby.”
She nodded and slipped her arms about his neck, holding on hard. “I’m trying.”
“I know.” He rested a hand against her spine, dropped a kiss on the curve of her shoulder. “One second at a time, Angel. We have all the time you need.”
I really loved how they worked together, leaned on and supported one another. When Troy Lee was stressed over work he turned to Angel. When Angel was having a bad day, she turned to Troy Lee. And when she has a major problem they work on it together. That’s not to say they didn’t have problems – with both of them being stubborn and independent they were bound to. But they fought for each other. I do think Troy Lee put more into the relationship than Angel did, especially in the beginning. He didn’t let her get away with anything.
She paused and met his gaze straight on. “You should be seeing someone your own age, Troy Lee.”
“Please don’t start that bullshit again. It’s not the issue and you know it.”
“Really. What, pray tell, is the issue?”
“We’ve been out one time and already you’re looking for me to cut and run.” He shook his head. “You’re doing it again. Speeding ahead, looking for where you think you’re going, instead of seeing what’s along the way. You gotta learn to slow down and enjoy the ride, Angel.”
He was definitely the stronger of the two. But Angel didn’t disappoint me. She had some stuff to work through, and I saw major growth from her. Despite her being in her 30’s, she read as kind of immature in the beginning. That wasn’t the case by the end. Plus, once she committed to Troy Lee, that was it. She was all in.
Angel blinked hard and bit her lip, trying to stop the quivering of her chin. “I feel like I’ve waited my whole life for him, waited to get to this point where I could appreciate and value him most.”
Despite my love of Troy Lee and Angel, I did have some issues with this book. Some major ones.
First: Tick Calvert. Tick got his HEA in Hold On To Me. He was tortured and brooding in his book, but was reformed by the love of a good – oh, wait, no he wasn’t. Because Tick is an even bigger jerk now than he was when he was being “tortured” in his book. He was an asshole, plain and simple. He was dealing with a lot of stress in his life, but the way he took it out on Troy Lee was ridiculously petty and mean. He wasn’t hard on him because he saw potential and wanted Troy Lee to be the best he could be. He was hard on him because he didn’t like not being in control of other elements of his life. That’s makes him an asshole. Which annoys me because I really liked him prior to the last two books in this series (this one and Hearts Awakened).
My second issue is a big one, one that came close to ruining the story for me. The main conflict that arises between Troy Lee and Angel was resolved way too easily for my liking. I was really disappointed in the direction Winfree went.
I think I’m going to go ahead and talk about it.
spoiler alertShortly after she and Troy Lee start dating, Angel finds out she’s pregnant. Troy Lee stands beside her and tells her he’ll support her. He’s loving and kind and I just wanted to kiss him. But that isn’t the problem. The problem is, she doesn’t know whose baby it is. It could either be Mark Cook’s baby, Troy Lee’s coworker that she had a one night stand with, or her ex-fiance’s. Her ex wants nothing to do with it or her, and though Mark is willing to be supportive, he’s just started a new relationship and is afraid this will ruin it.
In the end, it is Mark’s baby. That was wrong on so many levels. First, that baby should have been calling Troy Lee daddy. Second, it was just too easy. No one had to suffer at all. Angel got a great man in her life and a great biological father for her baby. Tori accepted that Mark had gotten another woman pregnant even though she struggled throughout the book with jealousy over Angel (not to mention Mark lost a baby some time back and this was seen as a “fate” type thing). Even Tick, who was an asshole of extreme proportions throughout the entire book, just shrugged it off (as Tori’s brother he had reason to be upset that his sister’s new man had gotten another woman pregnant – even if he was best friends with said man). It was just too neat.
The third problem I have is related to the second: all the unprotected sex going on. Angel was a woman in her 30’s, and so were both the men who might possibly be the father of her baby. I get the author needed the conflict the situation created, but come on. Though I do have to give Winfree credit for writing a female character in this situation and not slut shaming her. Angel had concerns about how she’d be regarded when people found out she didn’t know who the father was, but Troy Lee was quick to put those feelings to rest. end spoiler
Those last two issues definitely hurt the story. I just can’t get over the easy resolution.
Despite that, however, I was really impressed with this entry. Troy Lee and Angel were spectacular together and Troy Lee is just…perfect (I know I keep saying that, but it’s true!). Because it had issues I couldn’t get over,I’m giving it a:
4.5 out of 5